Saturday also means it's time to announce the winner in my POM Wonderful giveaway! I put the names of all the entrants on slips of paper and placed them in a basket. I gave the basket a good shake and took it into my sleeping husband. He picked out a slip of paper with the winner's name without opening an eye! Not exactly the most scientific method, but that's how I roll! The winner of the POM Wonderful tote bag, free bottle of juice, and chef series recipe cards is...Louanne of Louanne's Kitchen! Congrats...I'll be in touch to get your mailing address so I can get this in the mail!!
Now...a little discussion about dinner party planning. Here's today's tip: The menu you put together is like a symphony, but it's composed of flavors instead of musical notes! I like to think of my menu as a whole instead of individual components. Each piece is important in its own way and contributes to the overall effect. The drink and amuse bouche get the party started, the the main course is front and center...and then you leave them with something sweet in the end!! I love to make a framed menu card for my guests to look at when they arrive...so they know what food will be served.
The side dishes you choose are very important. Sure...they're not the main dish...aka The Star of the Show. They may not be glamorous or front and center, but they serve a very important purpose. Much like a supporting cast in a movie, they can make or break the end result if they fall flat. That means it's important to choose them wisely! I wanted to pick side dishes for my POM party that had a lot of eye appeal and flavor.
The two sides for my dinner party were a bright salad and a down-to-earth sweet potato dish. The salad was a bridge between the amuse bouche and the spicier main dish. Since the fillo cups had pistachios and arils, I decide to add them to my salad as well to continue that flavor profile onto the seated portion of the dinner. I topped the salad with creamy feta, pistachios, arils, and a sweet and tangy pomegranate vinaigrette. This salad literally bursts with flavor...Michael has even asked me to add it to my Thanksgiving menu!
The sweet potatoes were specifically picked to pair with my main dish, which was roasted chicken breast rubbed in a spicy Moroccan seasoning blend that were served over a fruity fall pomegranate rice pilaf. Nothing says fall quite like sweet potatoes, so I thought they'd compliment the flavors of this dish very well. They were sweet and creamy and had a hint of pomegranate flavor thanks to a bit of pomegranate molasses in the flavorful glaze! I hope you'll give these recipes a try and let me know what you think!
Red Leaf Lettuce With Israeli Feta, Pistachios, Pomegranate Arils, and Pomegranate Vinaigrette
Step 1: Tear about two cups of tender red leaf lettuce into bite-size pieces and add to a salad bowl. Top with 1/2 cup crumbled feta. If you can find it, I prefer Israeli feta. The flavor is sharp and creamy, but not quite as salty as Greek feta. Sprinkle 1/3 cup chopped pistachios and 1/3 cup pomegranate arils on top.
Step 2: Make the sweet-tart pomegranate vinaigrette. In a 1-cup measuring cup, add 1/4 olive oil, 2 tbs. pomegranate molasses, 3 tbs. raspberry vinegar, 1 tbs. finely minced shallot, and salt and pepper to taste. Whisk and set aside until you're ready to serve the salad. I like to make my vinaigrette at least 30 minutes ahead to let the flavors combine.
Step 3: When you're ready to serve the salad, pour the vinaigrette on top and give it a gentle toss. Adding the dressing just before serving ensures a fresh, crisp salad.
Pomegranate-Thyme Roasted Sweet Potatoes
adapted from There's Always Thyme to Cook
Step 1: Preheat oven to 375. Peel two large sweet potatoes. Cut into bite-size chunks and put in large bowl. Add 1 tbs. olive oil, 1 tbs. honey, the leaves from two sprigs of fresh thyme, 1 tsp. cinnamon, and salt and pepper to taste. Toss to combine and pour into an 8x8 pan. The pan I used is by Emile Henry. It's glazed ceramic, and I LOVE IT! It cooks food evenly every time!!
Step 2: Roast the potatoes for about 30 minutes. They should be browned and fork-tender.
Add 2 tbs. of pomegranate molasses and stir to combine. Put back in the oven to roast for five more minutes. The original recipe called for adding walnuts and pom arils to the top before serving. However, I tasted the potatoes and decided I wanted the sweet creamy texture to stand alone. I did drizzle a bit more pomegranate molasses on top just before serving.
Come back on Monday to get all the details about the yummy Moroccan-Spiced Chicken and Fall Pomegranate pilaf that I served for my main course. It's deceptively simple and oh-so-yummy! In the meantime, have a FAB weekend!!!